Rams­den Park dis­pute dubbed ‘Ramp­gate’

Lo­cals ar­gue $766,000 ramp on Hills­boro won’t be all that ac­ces­si­ble come win­ter

North Toronto Post - - News - By Sa­man­tha Peksa

Signs protest­ing the cost and size of an ac­ces­si­bil­ity ramp planned for the Hills­boro Av­enue en­trance to Rams­den Park have popped up all around the neigh­bour­hood. Con­struc­tion is slated to be­gin Sept. 5; and some res­i­dents hope to de­lay it un­til al­ter­na­tive de­signs can be ex­plored.

The ramp is part of Phase 2 of a $7 mil­lion re­vi­tal­iza­tion ef­fort for Rams­den Park paid for with On­tario Plan­ning Act, Sec­tions 37 and 45 funds: money con­trib­uted by de­vel­op­ers in ex­change for ad­di­tional height or den­sity on new projects.

Coun­cil­lor Kristyn Wong-Tam, of Ward 27 Toronto Cen­tre–Rosedale, said the 14-acre park was in dire need of restora­tion work and there was sig­nif­i­cant de­sign con­sul­ta­tion back in 2014.

“What started as a $2 to $3 mil­lion restora­tion project has now bal­looned out to over $7 mil­lion. But it was the right thing to do.… When we make those in­vest­ments with the city, es­pe­cially for a sig­na­ture park like Rams­den, they are 50- to 75-year builds. So this type of money amor­tized over that pe­riod of time is more than good value,” said Wong-Tam. “We have to build city in­fras­truc­ture that is go­ing to be in­clu­sive to every­one.”

The ramp will cost ap­prox­i­mately $766,000 and will be in ac­cor­dance with the Ac­ces­si­bil­ity for On­tar­i­ans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act (AODA). It will have five switch­backs and will mea­sure 187 me­tres long and 2.1 me­tres wide. Ap­prox­i­mately 15 old trees will need to be re­moved be­fore its in­stal­la­tion.

Kathrin Bohr, a lo­cal res­i­dent and mem­ber of the ABC Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion called the ramp “a mas­sive me­tal in­tru­sion” and noted the fi­nal de­sign was only just pre­sented to the pub­lic re­cently with­out feed­back.

Bohr and her hus­band James Mur­phy ar­gued that, since the city does not clear any paths or ramps of ice and snow in the win­ter, the ramp will be in­ac­ces­si­ble to any­one dur­ing that time.

“It’s an in­cred­i­bly ex­pen­sive project, and it’s not needed … and the fact that it won’t be main­tained in the win­ter pretty much ren­ders it use­less sev­eral months a year,” said Mur­phy. Ac­cord­ing to Bohr, res­i­dents have dubbed the con­tro­versy “Ramp­gate.” Irina Stoian lives in one of the build­ings near­est to the Hills­boro en­trance, and has posted signs on all of the marked trees protest­ing their re­moval.

“I re­al­ized it was go­ing to be mas­sive and would dev­as­tate that whole green area on Hills­boro hill,” said Stoian.

Wong-Tam said city staff have iden­ti­fied all of the trees as ei­ther sick or in­va­sive species and noted they all will be re­placed three to one.

Yet res­i­dents are point­ing to three other ac­ces­si­ble en­trances into the park as fur­ther jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for their ar­gu­ment that the ramp just isn’t needed.

Dave Nosella, project man­ager of cap­i­tal con­struc­tion at the City of Toronto, said staff re­cently met with con­cerned res­i­dents and de­cided to hold off on con­struc­tion un­til fur­ther con­sul­ta­tion could take place.

Irina Stoian at the Hills­boro en­trance where a ramp will go in this fall

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